Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Trump: Afghan peace talks are 'dead'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that talks with Afghanistan's Taliban leaders are off and that he was still considering a U.S. troop drawdown in the country.
"They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead," Trump said of the talks, speaking with reporters as he left the White House for North Carolina.
Months of U.S. negotiations with the Taliban militants, who control large parts of Afghanistan, ended on Saturday when Trump abruptly announced he was canceling secret talks at Camp David with the Taliban and the country's president, Ashraf Ghani. The talks were aimed at securing an agreement to pull U.S. troops out after nearly 20 years of war.
A draft accord agreed last week would have seen about 5,000 American troops withdrawn over coming months in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.
Despite the Afghan government's wariness of negotiating with the Taliban, Trump had hoped having both parties at the presidential compound in Maryland could produce an agreement.
Trump said he knew the gathering could not take place after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack last week that killed an American soldier in the capital Kabul.
The end of the talks has fueled fears of a further increase in violence across Afghanistan.
Fighting continued in the region even as talks took place, with the Taliban stepping up attacks in recent weeks. An American general said on Monday the U.S. military is likely to accelerate the pace of its operations in Afghanistan to counter the upsurge.
Bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan has been one of Trump's main foreign policy objectives, and the Republican president said his administration was still thinking about a drawdown of the 14,000 U.S. soldiers in the country.
"We'd like to get out but we'll get out at the right time," he said.
Afghan President Ghani, who was sidelined from months of negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives, had been deeply suspicious of the talks, which sought to agree a timetable for an American withdrawal.
On Monday, Ghani made a renewed call for peace but insisted the Taliban must observe a ceasefire, as he sought to regain a hold on the peace process.
Meanwhile, Trump defended his decision to offer up the historic Camp David compound to a militant group that harbored Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and is still killing Americans, so close to the 18th anniversary of the 2001 attacks.
"Camp David's held meetings with a lot of people that would have been perceived as being pretty tough customers and pretty bad people," he said. "There have been plenty of so-called bad people brought up to Camp David for meetings. And the alternative was the White House, and you wouldn't have been happy with that either."
Located in the Catoctin Mountains outside Washington, the Camp David retreat has been used to host foreign dignitaries and was the site of landmark peace efforts, including when President Bill Clinton hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice in Washington; Hamid Shalizi and Hameed Farzad in Kabul; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis)
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.